Getting back to the “Why”

US with Santa

No matter your religion or which holiday you celebrate, if any, we all know when it’s “holiday season” and what it’s supposed to mean. When it comes down to it, it’s about being grateful, about spending time with the people you love and appreciating those moments, and about spreading cheer to everyone around you, especially those less fortunate. With social media, television, and email campaigns, it’s so easy to forget WHY we celebrate in the first place. But I want to get back to our why. I want to go back to the 10 year old Kayla who LOVED hand-making cards and creating homemade presents or simply doing none at all because that’s not what is important. There’s only one small problem to skipping presents all together…

Who else’s love language is giving and receiving gifts? Oh hey. Das me. I’m not exactly proud of it, but somewhere in my childhood, I learned that getting gifts for no reason and getting even more at Christmas time meant that I was hella loved. So now that I’m an adult with all the skrillaz (hah), I like to give gifts. I don’t just want to give any gifts though, I want to give the best damn gift my step sister’s boyfriend’s brother’s baby mama’s kids have ever seen!

But that’s not realistic and what am I teaching them anyways? So the last couple of years, and especially now that we have our own daughter, I’ve been reeling it in. Instead of buying everyone the perfect gift, I keep it simple and personal. Every year I create an ornament. One year it was homemade, this year I ordered some through Minted on recycled paper with our photos. It’s something people can keep and not feel obligated to display year round. They can tuck it away with the Christmas decor and remember it next year when they put up the tree.

Instead of fretting over what to get my grandmother, whom Stella’s middle name comes from, I found an old sweater I knew I’d never wear again and I made a snowman out of it to give to her. That sweater has special meaning to me because I wore it when we took our newborn photos two weeks after Stella arrived and she was still teeny tiny and couldn’t talk back. My grandma loved it!

For everyone else, I bake something. Of course, it needs to be something everyone is sure to love and it has to have all the glitter sprinkles, but I bake something that I put my heart into. I bake them something that they will eat now and enjoy and not get bored of by next week and clog up some landfill by this time next year. I make sure it goes in something reusable and not some cellophane or plastic wrap (gag). This year I chose mason jars. My grandma loves canning and she’s always giving away jars of salsa or jelly as gifts, so I consider my mason jar glitter krispies my small way of paying her back. I know they’ll all eventually make their way to her when the rest of my family has sufficiently stuffed their faces with rice krispy balls. Or maybe they’ll use theirs to hold thumbtacks, who knows, but it’s not garbage and that’s cool.

I’ve even started a rule for my daughter’s Christmas so I don’t go overboard. I already request no toys (or nothing at all for that matter) from relatives because I’d much rather they don’t go broke trying to spoil my child. If they absolutely must spend their money, at least let it be on a season pass to the zoo or swimming lessons. I make this request also because I ultimately know no one will listen and she’ll still get a few more toys to fill her overflowing toy box. It’s hard because I want to be the one who got her her favorite toy that she won’t put down, but instead I got her something to read, something to wear, something she needs, and just ONE thing she might want. She’s a toddler and she doesn’t know what she wants until someone else buys it for her that isn’t me, so I’ve learned to shrug it off.

The thing is, she’s two. She won’t remember all of that junk by next year, so I try to focus on other things that she needs and experiences we can share together, so I buy her Disney Gift cards. They don’t expire and someday hopefully we will save up enough gift cards and Christmas cash to go as a family and give her an experience she will REMEMBER. That sounds a lot better than a decade of toys we’ve bagged up and shipped off to Goodwill, doesn’t it?

This year, I even cut back on what I got Brent. He wanted a heated jacket, which he’s wanted for years. He works outside all winter long and it’s something he actually NEEDS. I think the man can finally have a heated jacket. Other than that, he opened a pair of underwear that was in his stocking and a replacement phone charger cord for his frayed one we lovingly call “Shockey.” Any “How I Met Your Mother” Fans? We spent the rest of the day snuggling on the couch with Stella in our pajamas and watching the Grinch for the millionth time and we were HAPPY.

Humans, I challenge you to re-think your holidays, re-think your Black Friday Shopping, please re-think your wrapping (that’s another blog post). Just re-think your spending and what the holidays are really all about; experiencing time with your family, making memories, and bonding, things that money just can’t buy.

How does this relate to weddings? Well, maybe it doesn’t but it kind of does… because this industry has become so wasteful and so focused on consumerism that we forget about what the wedding is even celebrating, love. So to the couples reading this, why don’t you focus on the things that make you truly happy? How about having the most amazing honeymoon and not taking out a second mortgage for your wedding day? You don’t need the best caterer that money can buy when you know everyone you’ve invited will devour some pizza and be happy. You don’t need to invite your mom’s best work friend. Do you even know her? That brand name, brand new dress? There is a gently worn one available on Poshmark, exact same style, size, and color for $1,000 less. WUT.

All I’m saying is, reevaluate what is important in your life and go from there. / End Rant

Kayla Dunn